Dentists realize that reducing the patient's pain helps provide better dental care, and are turning to technology for help. Electrical impulses disrupt pain signals sent to the brain. Virtual reality goggles take the patient's mind off the procedure. Instead of drilling, laser beams and concentrated fluoride solution are used to fix small decays. Cognitive Behavior Therapy reduces phobia.
Dentists see all kinds of patients — those who can stoically sit through procedures as serious as root canals with not a touch of anesthetic, and also those who will jump out of the chair in fear, the moment the drill touches a tooth.
Conventionally, for various reasons, dentists have expected patients to simply put up with the pain of the procedures that they go through. Their training has always told them to use as little anesthetic as possible, and to turn to it only if a patient seems particularly sensitive to pain.
In the time that it takes dentists to determine that a patient really is sensitive, they can have gone through considerable pain.
Advancements In Dentistry
Dental training today has advanced to the point where doctors routinely turn on the anesthetic just as often as they avoided it before. They know today that avoiding pain relief is counterproductive. Patients feeling pain at the hands of dentists simply put off treating problems forever, often making their condition much worse than it could be.
Not only does modern dental science equip dentists with new, high-tech anesthetics that allow precise control of the degree of numbing to offer, it teaches them to hand control over to the patient. It is their mouth, after all.
Dentists today look at the patients to instruct them on the degree at which they can offer numbing, and to tell them how well an anesthetic is working.
They ask them if they would like to come back another day if they are overcome with fear, and educate them on how to tell if an anesthetic is working well (for instance, patients can know that anesthetic injected in the lower jaw is wearing off if they begin to get feeling back in the lower lip).
For patients who hate the very idea of having a needle jammed into their gums, nitrous oxide is an effective anxiety drug. General anesthesia for sedation is an option that is always on the table, as well.
New High-Tech Alternatives
Impulses of electricity meant to disrupt pain signals sent to the brain and virtual reality goggles to take the mind off the procedure on hand, are all options often found in major dental practices today.
No-drill dentistry is gaining popularity, too. It uses laser beams to excavate and clean moderate-sized cavities, and is particularly an encouraging development.
Drilling may also be unnecessary for small dental decays that can be treated with concentrated fluoride solution. Such treatment with fluoride solutions works with the same principles as fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride solutions help counteract tooth decay, and also helps build up damaged teeth.
To many dentists, though, trust building is the most advanced technique possible. Many patients today, are simply unable to believe that dentistry has moved substantially over the past decade to completely render pain unnecessary.
The best dentists today take their time showing patients how the science has evolved. It builds trust in the powers of modern dentistry.
To many people, a few unpleasant early experiences of insensitive dentists put a deep fear of treatment in them. With a couple of experiences of the approaches adopted by modern dentistry behind them, though, they tend to change their minds. For others, it takes somewhat longer.
Sometimes, though, it may be useful to begin treatment elsewhere — say, with a therapist specializing in dental phobias.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy For Dental Treatment Phobias
According to research published in the British Medical Journal in 2015, psychological counseling techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy can greatly help with odontophobia.
Patients go through sensitive training that shows them how certain logical fears get overblown in the mind, and work against them. While the therapy process can take months to deliver a substantial change, it tends to be well worth the investment in time.
Some dentists specialize in patients who experience dental phobias. These doctors both coach their patients out of their fears, and offer sensitive treatment. For those who experience such phobias, it can be helpful to look up practices that advertise such specializations.
For those who fear the dentist’s chair more than death itself, there are far more options available today than ever before. No one needs to stay away from the dentist anymore simply for reasons of fear of pain.